Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
At my own home airport of Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, parking in the garages near the terminals costs $22 per 24 hours for self-parking, and $26 per day if you choose to valet park. Some airports in higher priced cities, such as at Chicago’s O’Hare cost even more with valet parking ringing in at $61 per day. If you are spending $20, $30, or a staggering $61 per day on airport parking, your family will quickly owe hundreds of dollars just for airport parking before your vacation is over.
Thankfully, there are actually many options when it comes to the decision of where to leave your car when you fly, and lots of the options cost much less than you may think. Here is a rundown of ways to save money on airport parking.
Get dropped off at the airport by a family member or friend
You may roll your eyes at this obvious tip #1, but getting dropped off at the airport by a friend or family member is by far the easiest and most effective way to save money on airport parking. If you are flying with young kids, I cannot overstate the value of being dropped off curbside at the airport. Not only will it obviously save you money over paying for airport parking, but you will save time and hassle by eliminating the drama that can be associated with shuttle buses, hauling around car seats, luggage, and potentially tiring out little feet before you even get into the airport.
We fly so frequently that we don’t bother family members for rides to the airport every single time we fly, but on longer trips, we often swap chauffeur roles with my parents, taking turns dropping each other off at the airport.
Price out Uber, taxis, car service, and public transportation options
I promise we are about to get into some options that will save you money if you have to park at the airport, but before you decide that is the best course of action, be sure and price out using Uber, Lyft, a taxi, or car service. Depending on how far you live from the airport and how long you will be gone, one of these services may offer cost savings over parking at the airport. Even if the cost savings is not there, it may be less stressful to not have to factor in time to park and simply get dropped off at the curb, especially when traveling with a family.
If you live in a city with good public transportation to the airport, that will likely be the cheapest way to avoid airport parking short of having a family member drop you off at the terminal.
Do a Google search for airport parking coupons
At most airports there are almost always coupons available for some of the economy and off-airport parking lots. This is especially true if you are parking over a weekend or for more than a couple of days. I would start with a Google search that says “discount parking coupons at LAX” and substitute in your specific airport. Additionally, check on Groupon for airport parking coupons and discounts for your location as there are usually a plethora of discounts available.
Check directly with the airport for available parking discounts
In addition to running a generic search for discounted airport parking options, check directly with your airport’s website for available discounts. For example, at Houston’s IAH you can save 20% on economy parking of three days or longer with a coupon available on the website. This drops your official airport parking price to as low as $4.43 per day.
Bundle an airport hotel stay with extended parking
If you are considering a hotel stay near the airport either at the start or end of your trip, you may be able to leave your car at the hotel and simply take the hotel’s shuttle to the airport for less than the cost of parking at the terminal. It is always worth asking if you might be able to simply leave your car for free, but often there is some sort of ‘park and fly’ package that costs more than just the lowest priced hotel room. However, the added fee is not always very high.
As an example, at the Hyatt Place Houston Bush Airport property, the Park, Stay, and Fly package was only $19 more than the basic cost of a hotel night for up to 14 days of parking. That works out to an average of just $1.35 per day on a 14 day trip.
You may be best served by checking with the various airport hotels directly, but you can also use a site such as Park Fly Sleep to not only find some park, sleep, and fly deals, but to also view offers to park at airport hotels without actually staying there.
The official prices to park at Newark Airport are $18 – $39 per day, but Park Fly Sleep website displayed a price of just $6.39 per day to park at the Renaissance Newark Airport. As a side note, I stayed at that hotel years ago it was above average for an airport hotel.
Use a parking app or website to find cheap airport parking
There are many apps and website that will help you secure discounted parking spots both at and away from the airport. It is probably worth checking several different sites if you want to find the absolutely cheapest airport parking for your area since the prices vary site to site. In addition to the already mentioned ParkSleepFly, a few discounted parking websites to check are:
Get paid to leave your car with Travelcar
If you don’t want cheap airport parking, but you want free airport parking, then you should consider Travelcar. This option will not be for everyone, but Travelcar allows you to not only park for free, but actually get paid for every mile that your car is driven while you are gone by their renters. For what it is worth, you also get a car wash to go along with your free parking.
There are lots of caveats to dig into with this one, such as that your car must be less than 7 years old, have no more than 95,000 miles on the odometer, and you have to be okay with strangers driving it while you are away. Travelcar does provide $1 million in liability insurance and coverage against theft and physical damage. If you are looking at a longer trip of a month or greater, Travelcar offers flat rate monthly payments of $200 – $500 instead of payments based on how many miles your car is driven.
Look into monthly airport parking options if you fly frequently
If you are a frequent airport parking customer, it makes sense to consider monthly parking memberships. Not all airports or parking lots offer these memberships, but you won’t know until you ask. As an example, the San Antonio Airport has a monthly parking program in their short or long term parking lots that can even be shared with family members or coworkers.
Park for free at some smaller regional airports
Free parking is just about unheard of at major airports, but it can still be found at smaller airports, a few of which have scheduled passenger service. For example, the St. Cloud Regional Airport in Minnesota is served by Allegiant Airlines and offers free parking. Word on the internet is that there is also free parking at the airport in Casper, Wyoming, that is serviced by United and Delta…maybe. If you are flying on a chartered or private plane, there may be free parking available to you out of the FBO.
Take advantage of free airport parking promotions
Even major airports occasionally throw out free parking via limited-time promotions, so I recommend following your local airports on social media to stay in the loop on these offers. As an example, DFW has offered free parking during peak travel times such as Thanksgiving for the first 1,000 cars!
Pay with a credit card that rewards airport parking
Finally, assuming you have to pay something for your airport parking, be sure you are maximizing that expense. Some parking lots and programs offer points or even frequent flyer miles for your parking, so look into those programs wherever you decide to park. When it comes time to actually pay the bill, pay with a credit card that will give you a bonus on parking charges.
Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred typically award bonus points on parking charges at 3x and 2x points per dollar respectively. The Citi ThankYou Premier Card also awards 3x points on most parking charges under its travel category. Learn more.
Airport parking charges are never fun, but they don’t have to be overly painful if you know how to look for discounts and alternatives to paying through the nose to park at the terminal. How does your family save money on airport parking?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.